Who is Isabel Díaz Ayuso? Meet the Rising Conservative Star in Spanish Politics

Even as Madrid residents voted right wing Popular Party (PP) to power in the regional assembly elections, the limelight is on its leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso.

Ayuso, the president of the Madrid region, had called a snap election to the assembly, a gamble he won with overwhelming support. With 99 percent of the votes counted, her party has secured 65 seats in the 126-member assembly, a whopping double the number of seats her party had held in the previous assembly.

With this victory, Ayso dealt a stinging defeat to her leftwing opponents in Tuesday's election. Her main adversary, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) ended with just 24 seats, having won only about 16 percent of votes.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso
Spain's Popular Party leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso records thumping win in Madrid assembly election. Wikimedia Commons

Who is Isabel Díaz Ayuso?

Ayuso is a rising star in the Popular Party. The 42-year-old leader pulled the Madrid unit of the PP far to the right and successfully steered a tough election to win the keys to Madrid, dealing a blow in the process to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

She ran the campaign saying that the vote was about a choice between "socialism or freedom". She won more than 44 percent of the votes on that plank, while her chief opponent, Pablo Iglesias of the left-wing Unidos Podemos party ended up quitting politics altogether after losing the crucial election. Iglesias, who had held his campaign on the "democracy or fascism" plank, was the deputy to Socialist Prime Minister Sánchez. He had quit his role to confront Ayuso in the Madrid polls, but failed.

Ayuso studied journalism and political communication before joining the Madrid Assembly in 2011. She also has a Master's degree in Political Communication and Protocol. She became the Madrid assembly's president in 2019.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso
Spain's Popular Party leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso records thumping win in Madrid assembly election. Wikimedia Commons

Although she registered a thumping victory in the election and took 65 seats, she fell short of the simple majority of 69 seats. She will now have to accept the support of far right Vox party. Ayuso said her party and Vox were different parties but have "agreed on fundamental issues" and that will continue to be the case going forward, El Mundo newspaper reported.

Covid-19 Strategy

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Ayuso marked her position with an anti-lockdown strategy and clashed fiercely with Prime Minister Sanchez. Her victory shows that this straregy paid off. As President, she kept Madrid's bars and restaurants open throughout the pandemic while other Spanish regions closed them down.

"Madrid is freedom and they don't understand our way of living, that's why Sánchez and his colleagues do not enter in Madrid," Ayuso said her victory speech.

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